A Flavorful, Antioxidant-Packed Herb Variety

Sweet basil is the type that’s most frequently referred to as just “basil,” so we’ll reference this one for comparison with the purple variety. According to vegan chef Priyanka Naik: “Purple basil has the same flavor profile of sweet green basil, but amplified,” she wrote on Instagram. “Stronger smell, stronger taste, and overall a bit more flavorful.”

Separate from its flavor differences, that color is a pretty clear distinguisher, too. “Purple basil has anthocyanin, which gives it the beautiful purple pigment,” shares Naik. If you’re thinking that anthocyanin sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the same phytochemical that gives red onions, pomegranates, and purple sweet potatoes their hues.

According to medical research, anthocyanins support metabolic health, contain anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, and are also known to help support cardiovascular health. While just a few leaves of this purple herb may not contribute a significant amount of phytochemicals, if you’re making a basil-heavy dish, it’s worth considering this as a chance to add some extra antioxidants to your meal.

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